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Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

March 12, 2019 at 4:37 pm · · Comments Off on Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

This past Wednesday was Ash Wednesday, marking the beginning of the Lenten season. This Sunday we began a Lenten series called “Listening at the Cross,” in which we will spend the next 7 weeks at the foot of the cross, leaning in close to hear what Jesus says. Oftentimes in the Protestant Church, we can have a hard time making the cross real; however, there could be no Easter Sunday without a Good Friday, no resurrection without a death- which is why we are spending this Lenten season at the cross. Each week of this series we will deep dive into each of the seven last words (or rather, statements) of Jesus at the cross. This week we began with what is believed to be the first of the last seven words of Jesus: Father, forgive, them, for they know not what they do.

In Luke 23, we find Jesus beaten, bloodied, and barely able to walk. When they get to Golgotha, the Roman soldiers nail Jesus’ hands and feet to a cross. When people were crucified, they ultimately died by asphyxiation, where they wouldn’t be able to get enough oxygen to breathe. Jesus was in horrific physical pain but also emotional agony too, as the crowds, leaders, and soldiers sneered against him. Yet in the midst of such great suffering, he strains his breath to offer a simple prayer, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Jesus asked God to forgive people who undermined his ministry, called for his crucifixion, and killed him. This is quite an unexpected prayer, and it would have been shocking to anyone who overhead it. Jesus wanted us to overhear this prayer. It would have been easier and less painful to pray silently, but he wanted us to see him offering compassion towards the people who wronged him.

Jesus offers this prayer not only for the people by the cross that day, but for all of us who have ever wronged God. Jesus’ compassion and mercy extends to all. As Jesus prays this prayer from the cross, we discover no deed is unforgiveable, no person unredeemable. The part of this statement “for they know not what they do” implies that Jesus knows these people, their hearts, and their pains. It is an invitation for us to take a step back when we are wronged to consider another person’s story and have compassion on them. I have come to believe that each person who does something we consider offensive and egregious does so out of great suffering and pain of their own.

Forgiveness is hard, but forgiveness is necessary. If we cannot forgive others, it closes us off from the grace we need. Forgiveness enables us to experience true freedom in Christ. The power of forgiveness comes from the truth that it did hurt and matter, yet I still chose to forgive. Rather than being gripped by a grudge, Jesus invites us to find freedom through forgiveness.

Scripture Readings:
Monday- Luke 23:26-35
Tuesday- Matthew 18:21-35
Wednesday- Matthew 6:7-15
Thursday- Isaiah 1:10-20
Friday- Psalm 51:1-19

Questions to Consider and Discuss:
1. Jesus prayed the prayer “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” over you too. What does that mean to you?
2. Are you holding a grudge against someone who has wronged you right now? If so, do you think you could overcome the wrong done to you by praying the prayer “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”?

March 3, 2019 at 4:39 pm · · Comments Off on Listen


This past Sunday was Transfiguration Sunday, where we remembered the story of the transfiguration and God’s invitation of the disciples to listen to Jesus. Jesus’ transfiguration is an intriguing and illuminating story. One day, Jesus took his disciples Peter, James, and John to the mountaintop to pray. While praying on the mountaintop, Jesus is transformed before the disciples eyes, his face and clothes change and a radiant glow shines forth from him. Then, Moses and Elijah appear and talk with Jesus. In this mystical experience, Jesus’ identity as God was affirmed. God tells the disciples, “This is my Son, the chosen one. Listen to him.” The disciples had all sorts of voices speaking to them- voices of the Roman government, Jewish leaders and Pharisees, families, friends, and their own internal voice. Out of all these other voices, God invites the disciples to listen to Jesus.

We too all hear all sorts of voices throughout the day- voices of politicians, authority figures, family members, friends, and even voices in our own heads. In the midst of all the other voices in our lives, the top priority voice for us to listen to is that of Jesus. As Christians, listening to Jesus is one of the most important, if not the most important, things we can do.

This week was a difficult week to be a United Methodist. At General Conference this week, the One Church Plan, the plan that the Council of Bishops recommended, failed. Instead, the Traditional Plan passed in a vote 53% to 47%, a vote that shows the bitter division in the church right now. While the Traditional Plan passed, 2/3 of American delegates voted for the One Church Plan, so this decision has created much angst within the American United Methodist Church right now. The Traditional Plan upholds, strengthens, and enforces the current language in our Book of Discipline (the book that contains the doctrine and law of the UMC). However, much of the Traditional Plan was ruled unconstitutional by the Judicial Council. As of right now, we are not sure what we have, as we wait for an official ruling from the Judicial Council in April 2019. Some are grateful this plan passed, while others feel hurt, angry, and personally harmed by this legislation. Whatever your emotions about General Conference, the invitation from the Transfiguration story remains pertinent. Listen to Jesus. We wonder, what would Jesus’ response be to this General Conference and the legislation passed? What would Jesus have to say about how we have treated each other this week? What would happen if we all took some time to take a deep breath, stop, and listen to Jesus?

This Wednesday we begin our Lenten journey. More than ever we need Lent right now, with its emphasis on prayer, self-denial, and listening to Jesus. This year during Lent, our sermon series is entitled “Listening at the Cross.” We will be journeying through the last words of Christ before his crucifixion. In the wake of General Conference, we hope the journey to the cross this Lent will help us all open our hearts and ears to Jesus.

Scripture Readings:
Monday- Mark 9:2-9
Tuesday- Luke 9:28-36
Wednesday- Matthew 17:1-8
Thursday- Mark 8:27-38
Friday- Deuteronomy 6:1-9

Questions to Consider and Discuss:
1. Julian Treasure says, “I think listening is the most generous gift you can give another human being.” What are your thoughts on that statement? Why do you think that is?
2. Spend five minutes in silence each day this week, praying the prayer of Samuel “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.” As you listen to Jesus this week, what does he reveal to you?

February 24, 2019 at 4:47 pm · · Comments Off on God is big enough to guide the future of The United Methodist Church

God is big enough to guide the future of The United Methodist Church

In our final week of our sermon series God is Big Enough, we looked at how God is at work in our United Methodist Church right now. Pastor Mike shared a story about a previous church that did something innovative in worship one Lent. The first Sunday of Lent, they invited the congregation to fashion an object that represented Lent for them out of clay. Some of the objects included crosses and teardrops. The next Sunday in worship, all of their clay creations lay smashed in pieces around the altar, all of their creations tragically broken. The Apostle Paul in his second letter to the Church of Corinth, used imagery of clay jars, which some say is actually better translated as “cracked pots.”

The church of Corinth was all sorts of cracked pots, dividing over a variety of issues among each other. The body of Christ was chipping and cracking, as people divided into factions. In his letters to the Corinthians, Paul reminds them that they are all a part of the body of Christ, called to unity in the midst of diversity. Are we not cracked pots also? Are we also not broken, leaking, and bent towards division? General Conference, a global gathering to decide our church’s stance on the ordination and marriage of LGBTQ persons, is gathering February 23-26. This conference and the issues that surround it have been created some cracks and chips in our body of Christ.

Yet, God puts this treasure in clay pots. God puts the treasure of the good news of Jesus Christ inside each of us and our community. Because of this good news, we do not lose hope and must fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen. The treasure of the gospel is poured into leaking vessels, which means we cannot retain the whole truth on our own. We must not mistake our truth for the whole truth. We need each other to discover the whole truth, for together we are better at finding the truth together than we are on our own. We are a better witness when we are united and not divided, for division is the world’s way.

On Easter Sunday, the congregation entered into the sanctuary only to discover a beautiful cross made out of all the broken shards of clay. God made something new and beautiful out of the brokenness. One of Jesus’ final prayers in the Gospel of John was not to pray for all the disciples to be right but for them to all be one. We do not know what the final vote will be on Tuesday, but there are a few things we do know. On February 27, we will still be a church with the treasure of the good news of Jesus Christ. Christ is still at work in us and our church in vibrant, transformative ways. We must keep our eyes fixed on the good news and the mission to make disciples that Christ has set before us. God is big enough to guide the future of The United Methodist Church. God is big enough to make our broken vessels whole. Let us put our trust in God and do what we can to stay united, for we are better together than apart.

Scripture Readings:
Monday- 2 Corinthians 4:7-18
Tuesday- 1 Corinthians 1:10-17
Wednesday- 1 Corinthians 3:1-9
Thursday- 1 Corinthians 10:14-33
Friday- 1 Corinthians 12:1-31

Questions to Consider and Discuss:
1. What does it mean to you that God puts the treasure of Jesus Christ in cracked pots?
2. What are the blessings of diversity in the midst of unity in the church? What are the challenges?
3. What are practical ways we can stay united as the body of Christ?